Calgary

Picture of pdogs The first place we went in Calgary, once we figured out how to get to the car rental place, was the Calgary zoo. It's a rather extensive zoo, and it's the first and possibly only place we've ever seen a swan chase a moose. We also managed to get a top view of these two prairie dogs lying in a little sand pit they made. We're not sure why, it seems to be a prairie dog thing. After the zoo, we found our hotel, took a brief rest and dropped off the stuffed otter we bought at the zoo. Then we went back downtown to the Calgary Tower, which we don't seem to have taken a picture of. From there we had a nice view of the city, the Rocky Mountains, and prairie as far as the eye could see. That evening we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant located on an island in the middle of the Bow River. went in Calgary, once we figured out how to get to the car rental place, was the Calgary zoo. It's a rather extensive zoo, and it's the first and possibly only place we've ever seen a swan chase a moose. We also managed to get a top view of these two prairie dogs lying in a little sand pit they made. We're not sure why, it seems to be a prairie dog thing.
After the zoo, we found our hotel, took a brief rest and dropped off the stuffed otter we bought at the zoo. Then we went back downtown to the Calgary Tower, which we don't seem to have taken a picture of. From there we had a nice view of the city, the Rocky Mountains, and prairie as far as the eye could see. That evening we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant located on an island in the middle of the Bow River.
Picture of dinosaurpp The next day we headed east to Dinosaur Provincial Park, some two hours or so from Calgary. It's hard to tell because pretty much everything looks the same. That is, until the badlands just suddenly open up in front of you for no reason. (Well okay water is the reason.) Now however there isn't much water left in the badlands, though it did rain one the day we visited, which apparently is very rare. Here are badlands as far as you can see, except where Melanie is standing. day we headed east to Dinosaur Provincial Park, some two hours or so from Calgary. It's hard to tell because pretty much everything looks the same. That is, until the badlands just suddenly open up in front of you for no reason. (Well okay water is the reason.) Now however there isn't much water left in the badlands, though it did rain one the day we visited, which apparently is very rare. Here are badlands as far as you can see, except where Melanie is standing.
Picture of smectite The kind of dull colored powder you can't really see here on top of the dull colored rocks are smectites. That's a good word don't you think? It's rock of volcanic origin that has coated most of the ground surface in the badlands. When a little bit of water is applied to it (such as rain for instance) it becomes very slippery. While hiking here we came to the lowest point in a bowl shaped valley and were not certain we'd ever be able to get out again due to the slippery sides. Melanie here happens to be sitting on a hoodoo, which is the name of formations shaped like that. You could in fact say that this is a smectite-covered hoodoo, but we don't recommend it because very few people will have any idea what you just said.
Picture of rockies After we left the badlands, we stopped at an A&W store for lunch. Yay. And we had poutine. Double yay. After lunch we drove back to the southwest, passing exciting towns like Taber, where Taber corn comes from. You've probably not heard of this before, and we can't really help you there. Eventually, there isn't prairie as far as you can see anymore - instead, there's prairie up to the beginning of the really large mountains that have appeared on the horizon. And in the very first foothills of the Rockies, just past Ft. Macleod, you come to the inspirational and accurately named: Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Picture of prairie It is accurately named because the Indians native to these parts would drive buffalo off of a conveniently located cliff and then make all sorts of useful things out of the pile of dead buffalo (including food of course). One young brave (but stupid) stood under the cliff, presumably for the sheer joy of watching really large mammals come hurtling over him, except not all of them quite cleared him. Hence the name. This picture is looking back east over the prairie from the top of the 'jump'. From here we watched a small rainstorm prowl restlessly across the prairie, and there is also a marmot in this picture, but you probably can't actually see it. It's the slightly different colored lump on the nearest outcropping of rock on the far left side.
Picture of hsibj This is the view from the bottom looking up at the jump. As you can see, it's definitely a height from which it would be fatal to fall if you're a buffalo. It's also a height from which it is fatal to be hit by a falling buffalo if you're a human. In case you're wondering, there's a really extensive museum on the site which completely explains the process of turning buffalo into lemmings, as well as all sorts of details on daily life for the Indians who weren't squashed. We highly recommend it despite the apparently silly name. From here, we returned to Calgary for another evening of fine food and some rest before our trek into the mountains.

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